The Increasing Trend of Censor in the Baha’i Community

A Review of the sufferings of Ahmad Yazdani, the famous Baha’i Teacher

Masoud Monfared

Abstract

Ahmad Yazdani, the late Baha’i teacher, had close relations with Abdul-Baha’ and Shoghi Effendi.

          According to the Will & Testament of Abdul-Baha, it was supposed that the elder sons of Shoghi Effendi, generation after generation, substitute him.  Shoghi Effendi was the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith. In the Will of Abdul-Baha, the Guardian had a very high position. The Guardian was appointed as the permanent member, and unremovable Head of the Universal House of Justice. According to the Will of Abdul-Baha’, the Guardian was given different rights, and Shoghi Effendi had a keen attention to explain the importance of the Guardian status. From the Guardian’s authorities and rights were:

- To excommunicate the wrongful Baha’is,

- To forgive and accept the repented Baha’is

- To receive and spend the Huquq Allah, paid by the Baha’is (Baha’i income tax)

- To dismiss the sinful and wrong-doer members of UHJ

- To appoint the Hands of the Cause in expansion and protection aspects)

- To insist to amend and change the decisions and ratifications of the UHJ, that are is conflict with the spirit of the Baha’i teachings, . . ..

          However, Shoghi Effendi died unexpectedly, while he had no child, nor had appointed anyone as his successor. Thereafter, the Baha’is fell in dreadful shock and weakening conflicts to attain the position of Shoghi Effendi and the leadership of the Baha’i organization.

          After the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, the majority of the Baha’is accepted it. While some groups, LSAs, and NSAs separated from the main line, and followed the main claimant of the succession of Shoghi Effendi, i.e. Charles Mason Remey.

          The main subject at that time, according to the previous Baha’i scriptures, was the illegality of the authority of the UHJ, in the absence of the Guardian. Many Baha’is began to protest against it. The main shameful point for the Baha’i leadership circle were the remained explicit and clear words from Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, in different books, insisting on the continuous presence of a Guardian in the position of the Baha’i leadership.

          One of the above mentioned references, which contents were already confirmed and approved by Shoghi Effendi, was "Nazar Ejmali Bar Diyanat e Baha’i" compiled by Ahmad Yazdani.

          The current article will study and publish documents that reveal the decisions and actions of the Baha’i administration and UHJ towards a very famous Baha’i teacher (who was praised by Shoghi Effendi) who opposed the Baha’i organization. It was really a bitter play.

          There are 3 more important points to be noted about the publications of the Baha'is about the Baha'i Faith, in different countries:

1)  In the Baha'i communities, all over the world, the Baha'i writers and scholars are not allowed to publish their writings about the Baha'i Faith! All the works and articles should be handed to a Review committee that is appointed and acts under supervision of the Baha'i National Spiritual Assembly. If the said Review Committee ratified the work, it could be published. The Review Committee is authorized to ask for changes and corrections in the works, and the authors have no right for rejection or refusal.

2) In every country, the Baha'i National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) is authorized to judge and settle the disputes between the Baha'i people and the Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA). In the same way, the Universal House of Justice (UHJ) has jurisdiction to Judge and settle disputes between an NSA and an LSA.

3) This study does not claim that Mr. Yazdani departed from the Baha'i Organizations. It does not affirm other viewpoints of Mr. Yazdani either. It is just a report from what happened during that time. And some ex-members of the UHJ, like Mr. Nakhjavani, who are very active is delivering speeches these days, should comment and give their views about this article.

 

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          When Ahmad, Yazdani, the famous Baha’i teacher, sent his book, for review and confirmation, to Shoghi Effendi, he was probably very excited. Since, one of his best works, which was compiled as " Nazar Ejmali Bar Diyanat e Baha'i " (An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith) was to be viewed and confirmed by Shoghi Rabbani. Shoghi Effendi, after studying the book, commented as below:

          "Study of this book is useful. I hope that a great and comprehensive successful result may be obtained from its publication. The services of Mr. Yazdani, the author, is highly praised. May God extend His cause through his services and publication of his works. 

Ahmad Yazdani who was very glad from that success, got the approval of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Iranian Baha'is of that time, and the book was printed is 1947 (104 B.E.).

It was a successful book, and met the 3rd edition in the Baha'i community of Iran. For the 4th edition, they send it to England for a fine and precious printing. Shoghi Effendi had recommended the NSA of the Baha'is of Iran, in response to a question, "to send the same book of Yazdani - An Introduction … - to England for a precious print. The NSA of UK will send those books to every important person, specified by the NSA of Iran.

This tablet of Shoghi Effendi shows that the book "An Introduction …" was not only approved by the Baha'i leadership, but also he considered it a useful book for teaching and propagation of the Baha'i Faith to the noble people.

 

The Demise of Shoghi Effendi

After the sudden death of Shoghi Effendi and rising of doubts about the next leader of the Baha’i community, the book An Introduction … was degraded by the Baha’i authorities, and the efforts of Ahmad Yazdani for reprint of his book failed.

Yazdani, first, made some slight changes Is his book, and requested the NSA of Iran for permission to reprint it. But the NSA of Iran, after reviewing the "amended book" of "An Introduction to the Baha’i Faith " replied, "The reprint of your " amended book", under the same name, with changes and corrections in the chapter related to the ‘Guardian of the Baha’i cause’ is not reasonable, and may be dangerous. Some of its useful contents may be published and distributed under a new and different title.

          The reply of the NSA of Iran was not acceptable to Mr. Yazdani. By considering the importance of the book, and the confirmation of the Guardian of the Cause (Shoghi Effendi), he insisted for its re-publication. yet his persistent follow up with the NSA of Iran and the "Review" committee" was futile.

          Frequent awesome changes and substitutions were made to his book by the Review committee. The NSA of Baha’is of Iran asked Yazdani to agree with those changes, so as to let the 5th edition.

Some of the Changes and Omissions Advised by the NSA

1. It should be considered as a "new book", and no trace, nor reference should be made to previous editions.

2. The whole chapter 3 of the book, that talks about "the Guardian of the Cause of God" must be omitted.

3. In the whole text, the sentence, "the Guardian of the Cause is the permanent member and Head of the Universal House of Justice" should be deleted and substituted with the sentence "UHJ is the Center of legislation …".

4. The birth date of the Guardian, as mentioned in the previous editions to be deleted, and another birth date mentioned on his grave stone, in the Southgate Cemetery to be added.

5. On p.31, the text related to appointment and succession of the Guardians and their positions to be deleted and substituted with sentences regarding the infallible position of UHJ and its authority to settle the conflicts and resolve the problems of the Baha’i community.

6. On p.38, the paragraph about the future Guardians to be deleted and substituted with a phrase that "Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi were supporter and promoter of the cause, and Interpreter of the divine scriptures."

7. On p.47, the sentence (Rule) "The Rights of God – Huququllah – should always be handed to the Guardian" to be deleted and substituted with the words                           " Huququllah is referred to the UHJ!”

8. On p.53, phrases "the permanent head of the UHJ" and "these two spiritual and administrative centers, namely, the Guardian of the cause, and UHJ "to be deleted and substituted with the sentence, "this spiritual and administrative center is UHJ!"

9. On p.61, the sentence related to the "necessity of attendance of the Guardian of the Cause in UHJ" must be deleted.

10. On p.68, before the sentence. "But UHJ …", should be added that " Abdul-Baha has stated is his Will and Testament ", and the whole text " The Guardian of the Cause, is the sacred Head of this council, the special, most preferred, and unremovable member of the UHJ. If he could not attend the meetings personally, he will appoint a representative and deputy. And if any of the members of the UHJ committed a sin, the causes a loss to the public people, the Guardian of the Cause has authority to dismiss him. "to be wholly deleted!

11. On p.75, the statement " the Baha'i Faith is based on two essential pillars of the Guardian of the cause and the UHJ" to be deleted, and substituted with the sentence, "It is based on two essential pillars; the first is the scriptures, and the second is the universal House of Justice, that is the source of legislation."

12. On p.87, the sentence "Receipt of Huququllah should always be done by the Guardian of the cause." to be deleted and substituted with the phrase," Al every time, Huququllah will be presented to the sacred authority of the Baha'i Faith, and will be spent by the order and decision of that authority!"

          Ahmad Yazdani who was surprised with the frequent changes made by the NSA to his book, wrote a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran and refused their proposal for changes is his book. He even remembered to them that the birth date of Shoghi Effendi is his book was taken from his identification card, and was approved by the Guardian himself. And he did not know the source of the false birth date mentioned on the grave stone of Shoghi Effendi?!

          Yazdani added is his letter dated June 25, 1969 to the NSA of Iran, “… I think there has appeared a big misunderstanding for the NSA of the Baha'i of Iran! This book has duly been approved by the Review Committee, and confirmed by the Guardian. I thought that some slight changes may be needed in the book, with regards to the unfulfilled parts of the Will & Testament of Abdul-Baha - mentioned in the book. I do not want to discuss about the main contents of the book. By the above explanations, we should consider it as "ratified, recommended, and useful"! By the instruction of the Universal House of Justice, the sacred NSA of Iran should only make decision about necessary changes omissions about the parts of the book related to the will & Testament of Abdul-Baha. So none of the proposals of the NSA is acceptable to me".

          "I, myself, have been a member and secretary of the Review Committee of the Baha'i books" from its beginning. According to its directions and regulations, the committee may only prevent untrue, false, and opposite texts to the Baha'i scriptures, or against the wisdom! But the Review Committee is not allowed to interfere or change the contents of the books of people."

Useless Efforts and protests of Mr.Yazdani

          The Efforts and protests of Yazdani brought no result for him. He tried to get the permission of the NAS of Iran for new edition of his book. He even accepted to observe and insert some of the changes and omissions proposed by the Review Committee and the NAS. However, the extremist and extraordinary intervention of one of the members of "the Committee"- Mr. Mesbah - prevented any progress.

          Mr. Yazdani became quite reluctant to print the 5th edition of his book, after 6 years of struggle with the Review Committee and the NSA. On the other side, the Committee did not agree a new edition of the Yazdadni's work, even after many changes! They proposed to the NSA of the Baha'is of Iran for compilation of a new book, by considering   necessary changes and omissions is the book of Yazdani!         

 

Yazdani who was quite desperate about positive action of the NSA of Iran, decided to take the issue to the Universal House of Justice and request their help.

He informed the UHJ that his book was a good and useful book is propagation of the Baha'i Faith. But the NSA of Iran, after a long time of delay and wastage of time had some proposals, that would drastically change the principles and frame work of his book. He was, by no means, ready to insert those changes. So he requested the UHJ to interfere and settle the conflict between them.

UHJ and Ahmad Yazdani

          The UHJ did not agree with Mr. Yazdani, and asked him to reconcile with NSA, and obay them.

"… you dear believer are well informed that the issues related to publication and distribution of the Baha'i books should be referred to the NSA of Iran. While considering the sincere efforts of that kind Friend, we hope that direct contact and continuous consultation with the NSA of Iran would result is desirable events …”

With loving Baha'i Greetings,

Universal House of Justice          June 26, 1969

 

          It should be noted that negative view of the UHJ towards Mr.Yazdani and other scholars was not unprecedented. The Universal House of Justice, in a letter dated sept12, 1968, approved the procedure of "Reviewing" and inserting any change and correction to the Baha'i writings.

          They grounded their decision to the practice of Shoghi Effendi, who allowed any correction or change in the literatures of the Baha'is. A good example of Baha'i censorship and change in the works is the interference of Shoghi Effendi in the contents of John Esslemont's book," Bahaullah and the New Era".

Mr. Yazdani, was tired and bored from his unsuccessful activities, which had let to anger of the UHJ and the NSA of the Baha'is of Iran, and dissatisfied with his powerful old friends.

He wrote, in September of 1969, to Mr. Ali Nakhjavani- one of the powerful Iranian members of the UHJ-that he will try to not bother the UHJ anymore; and in case of need, will only pray to Bahaullah for any help and assistance.

          Mr. Ali Nakhjavani who had felt the anger of Mr. Yazdani, in order to rejoice his annoyance, and his relief, sent him a letter on sept7, 1969.

 

His Excellency, Mr. Ahmad Yazdani,

The Respected Scholar and the unique learned man, may I Be sacrificed for you!

          Last night I had a spiritual dream, and met you in a joyful atmosphere. You were quite healthy … It was ordered to send a second copy of the UHJ's letter to you. Today morning I stopped it! You are our distinguished teacher, and it deserves that Mr. Fath Azam and me be sacrificed for you and your services, more than 1000 times! Please do not worry! When I explained the detail of our meeting to the NSA of Iran, all the NSA members were quite respectful and humiliated towards you and your knowledge …

          I will be praying for you (may I be one thousand times sacrificed for you)at the holy shrines.

Ali NakhJavani

          Ahmad Yazdani reviewed the hand written letter of Mr. Nakhjavani hopefully, but there he found no order to solve the problem! He thought that since the majority of the UHJ members were non-Iranian, they had not understood his explanations! So he, once more, tried to convince Mr. Nakhjavani, and ask him to convey his views to the UHJ members, in English language, in an unofficial meeting!

 

Mr. Ali Nakhjavani,

Dear friend, and member of the UHJ,

          I received your letter DD sept7, 1969, through Mr. Rouhullah Samandari, and read it hopefully. Reading about your dream caused a pleasure to me. But let us come to real life. I wish to see honesty from the others!

          We look after truth, justice, and the spiritual issues in the Baha'i community. The expectations of me and other Friends, from the UHJ and other Baha'i organizations, according to frequent scriptures, are the same truth and justice! If the activities and procedures of other Baha'i organizations have not been is accordance with truth and justice; however, we, as Baha'is, see the UHJ as an infallible organization!

          I wrote four letters to UHJ, and provided some information about the situation of the publication of the Baha'i literature is Tehran (Iran). The Justice required that if I were right, the UHJ would give necessary instructions and recommendations to the related authorities (of NSA of Iran) for betterment of the affairs; and if my view and words were wrong, they should have warned me!

          But, that divine institution, in reply to my four letters, just replied, "all the affairs regarding the permission to print and publication of the Baha'i literature is referred to the NSA of Iran! Does it mean that NSA has extensive and uncontrolled authority over the writers? Or they should respect some principles and rules? The letter of UHJ implies that me, and other Baha'i writers, should have an unconditioned submissive approach toward the NSA of Iran, and the UHJ will not interfere in such cases.

          For example, it is four years that NSA of Iran is opposing with Re-publication of my book "Nazar Ejmali…" and despite the order of UHJ, they are still preventive. Instead of recommending for betterment of the book, they insist to change the main parts of the book!

          Please note that this book has already been approved and praised by the beloved Guardian. Now the NSA has acknowledged mistakes and necessity of corrections is the principal parts of my book!

          Another case is a collection of the sacred tablets, that I compiled it after 7 years, day & night hard working, that was praised by you divine trustees (UHJ). The book was completed is 35 volumes, with good references and sources. I provided it to NSA for approval about 10 months ago! They have not made any positive or negative comment about it! Have not received any verbal or written comment about it from the NSA of Iran. I do not know what problem or mistake they have seen is my book! They are quite careless about my efforts! Is this a right procedure? I believe, if the Baha'i organizations were careless towards Justice and Truth, then their existence and activities will be useless. As I do not know English language, so kindly ask you to provide a brief report of my current letter to the UHJ, in the English language.

Ahamd Yazdani, desperate from the views and decisions of the UHJ and NSA of Iran, tried to follow up the new edition of his book with the managers of the Baha'i Publishing Trust, in Iran, in order to find a solution , in the low level of the Baha'i organization! Hence he wrote a letter to Mr. Misaghi, the director of the Baha'i Publishing Trust, and explained, " I tried several times to call you, but no result. I wanted to talk to you about my book, "Nazar Ejmali…" which is waiting for more than 9 years for a permission for its new edition. By the order of the NSA of Iran, I brought this small book to you. I do not know how long I have to wait for new print of my book?

          Finally, the book, "Nazar Ejmali…" despite the opposition of its writer, was printed and published by making drastic and fundamental changes in it, ordered by the NSA of Iran, without any reference to its previous four editions! 

In the new edition of his book, all the positions and rights granted to the next Guardians, by Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, were neglected and deleted, and in all cases, the phrase" the Guardians of the Cause of God" was substituted with the Universal House of Justice. In fact, UHJ neglected one of its main responsibilities, that is to protect the sacred Baha'i texts! In other words, the UHJ and the NSA of Iran, by inserting changes is the 5th edition of the book,"Nazar Ejmali Dar Diyanat e Baha'i" concealed some truths from the Baha'is. Moreover, by ignoring the Guardian from the Governing organization and power pyramid of the Baha'i community, the UHJ could confiscate whole sovereignty and power is the Baha'i community.

In the last years of his life, Ahamd Yazdani tried to keep a minimum good relations with the UHJ and the NSA of Iran. Since he was dissatisfied with their decisions, and reluctant to continue any argument with them, he abandoned his previous positions, and did not accept any new responsibility.

          In one of his last correspondence with the NSA of Iran, Yazdani, clearly criticized its behavior towards the learned writers!

In part 6 of the letter, he reminded that after frequent correspondences during several years, about the print of his book, he had received unreasonable replies from the NSA, and in most cases they told him, "it is not advisable" to publish this book!

          In part 8 of that letter, Yazdani referred to his 7 years continuous work for compilation of a 34 volume book (A collection of the Baha'i tablets) but finally was stored in the NSA's office, without any firm and clear decision for a long time!

It seems that Mr. Yazdani knew that UHJ was not ready to raise the status of the Baha'i scholars in the Baha'i community, and let them a loud voice, parallel to the voice of the UHJ.

          Mr.Yazdani in the last years of his life resigned from all his Baha'i jobs and membership is the Baha'i committees. He even asked the NSA of Iran to send a truck and take away all documents from his home.

 

Although depressed, he was just satisfied with the compliments and praises done by Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi from him. He was unhappy from the absence of a Guardian, who could settle the disputes between he and the UHJ. He had put the hand writing of Shoghi Effendi, containing his compliment about Mr.Yazdani, on his home’s wall.

          After a long time of service to the Cause, Ahamd Yazdani became sick, and died in the hospital, when he was 86 years old, in the first days of July1977. On this occasion, the UHJ sent a short message:

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          NSA of Iran, Tehran, July7,1977

          The news about the death of Mr.Yazdani was a cause of sorrow. That ascended to the Abha kingdom had tireless efforts is the Baha'i fields of teaching and administration, for several years, during the Prophetic Era. His scholar activities will be remembered by the Friends in Iran.

          We assure his sad family from the warm prays of the members of UHJ, at the Baha'i shrines, for the elevation of his spirit in the Abha kingdom!

Universal House of Justice          

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